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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Jamie xx Brings London Club Scene to San Francisco

Posted By on Tue, Jul 28, 2015 at 9:34 AM

click to enlarge ADRIAN SPINELLI
  • Adrian Spinelli
Jamie xx
Bimbo's 365
July 27, 2015

Last night's Jamie xx show at Bimbo's 365 felt like some sort of concert hack.

The highly regarded producer, whose recently released debut LP, In Colour, has garnered rave reviews and launched the former The xx beat-maker into an exclusive level of both indie and pop stardom, is essentially "too big" to play Bimbo's. A fine venue, but with a capacity of 685, the choice of location was a head-scratcher, let alone for only $25?! So yes, the show sold out in minutes, as did Jamie's upcoming October show at the much larger 2,800 capacity Fox Theater in Oakland.

But the way the evening went down, it's almost as if Jamie had an agenda with a show this intimate: turn a low-key San Francisco club into something akin to the underground electronic clubs on London's Old Street. He created a place that bled the U.K. electronic club scene, with a dimly lit room and DJ's locked in on playing flawless sets of carefully chosen records, just letting the music do the talking. The true test of the night was if the San Francisco crowd could flow with the London vibe and Jamie, armed with a two-hour, all-vinyl set, never broke character. 

The whole night felt like Jamie was putting together a mix for the Fabriclive series, a product of legendary Islington club, Fabric. His set opened with heavy disco vibes that flowed into disco remixes of material from In Colour. It took a minute for Jamie's mission to come into focus, until he started dropping Detroit techno records and it felt like the beginning of a masterful display of cross-electro-genre-pollination. His expression never wavered, from the focused stare he wore on his face all night, clad in a one-size-too-large button down white shirt and curly-locked coif. 

click to enlarge ADRIAN SPINELLI
  • Adrian Spinelli

Detroit techno became Chicago house, and that loosened up the crowd. Then came an explosion of ragga jungle drums over Bimbos' impressive soundsystem and battle cries from the drum and bass heads in the front stirred up a commotion. I was sold for good when a mash-up of Leviticus' "Burial" into In Colour's steel drum-infused "Obvs" rounded out the jungle portion of the evening. (By the way, if you were there and you recognized that Leviticus track, we should probably be friends ... seriously, my Twitter handle is below, hit me.)

This was a true U.K. Club setting. There wasn't the pomp and flash of American EDM shows. As much as I would've liked to see a light show that played off the color spectrum visual aesthetic of In Colour, it just wasn't part of the plan for this evening. Instead, we settled for tech house into something from a wee hours DJ Harvey set, or as a gentle whisperer said in my ear, "Something James Murphy would play when he first started doing those basement DJ sets in New York after the LCD Soundsystem break up."

The crowd slid into the vibe that Jamie was looking to purvey, right up to the evening's shattering conclusion at 12:15 a.m., when the hook from song of the summer frontrunner, "I Know There's Gonna Be (Good Times)," erupted after an elongated build-up. Jamie's idea of "erupting" was a coy-yet-confident smirk as the chorus hit and it was his biggest show of emotion of the night. It goes to show that a DJ doesn't need to be pumping his fists on stage, or taking his shirt off and waiving it around like a raving wahoo to get the crowd excited.

No, this was a musical experiment of jumping around countless electronic genres, playing what you want to play, but still finding creative ways of giving the crowd what they want. It was about leaving your CDJs at home and throwing down vinyl for the night. It was about slipping in a grime record at the end, just to prove that you're well-versed in pretty much every type of music. It was one of the best producers in the game, giving an American crowd a U.K. experience and, in the end, proving that maybe our scenes aren't that different after all. 

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Adrian Spinelli

Adrian Spinelli

Hip hop and sandwiches.

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